North by Northwest: Hope Turns Green for Arkansas Children's Hospital
photography courtesy of the ACH Foundation
The year was 1912. A meeting was held in the State Bank Building in Little Rock in February, and by March 2 it was official. The Arkansas Children’s Home Society, an orphanage for the underprivileged children of Arkansas, was founded. The mission of the Society was to provide help to Arkansas’ most needy children; this mission remains at the heart of Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) 100 years later.
“Arkansas Children’s Hospital makes a difference for every child, every day,” said Jennifer Selig, director of development, ACH Foundation. “This year marks the 100th anniversary providing care for the children of our state. Everybody has been touched by the hospital one way or another, and our children are the future.”
Though the hospital is in Little Rock, northwest Arkansas has been giving back to the nonprofit for nearly 20 years. The 19th annual Will Golf 4 Kids and the 5th annual Color of Hope Gala raise funds every August to support the mission of the hospital.
The combined events achieved record-breaking success in 2011 raising more than $920,000 in net proceeds; in its 19 years of existence, the event has contributed more than $10.5 million to ACH.
The largest portion of the funds goes toward the hospital in Little Rock, most recently for their new south wing expansion. However, some funds are used for The Centers for Children in Lowell and the Angel One Transport Endowment. As the most visible symbol of ACH within the state, the helicopter made 235 visits to northwest Arkansas last year.
“It is a concerted effort in northwest Arkansas, which is a very important area for us to brand the hospital,” Selig said. “This event is a face of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in northwest Arkansas.”
Will Golf 4 Kids is an annual, two-day golf tournament founded in 1993 by Wal-mart; nearly 1,200 golfers participated in the tournament last year. The format is a four-person scramble, consisting of one round of 18 holes of play, with morning and afternoon flights both days.
Mike Sewell, co-chair of the tournament, has been involved with the event for 15 years. Though he originally got involved as a way to get connected after his move from Phoenix, he later saw firsthand the importance of ACH through a visit for his son.
“Seeing the hospital and having an opportunity to be served by that facility is a life-changing event, just because of how wonderful and gracious the people are,” Sewell said.
As the tournament continued to expand, the committee looked for ways to raise more money for ACH. The Color of Hope Charity Gala has proven to be a success with a sold-out crowd every year.
Though there’s a three-course dinner, dancing and a live and silent auction, the gala consistently stays focused on the purpose of the event. Each year a championed family serves as the face of the gala with an inspirational story to tell.
“It’s a pretty simple formula — keep focused on why we’re there,” Steve Collins, Color of Hope Gala co-chair, said. “We’re there to raise money for kids and their families. Arkansas Children’s Hospital is an amazing hospital and is one of the top-rated children’s hospitals in the country. What they do with children is unbelievable; everybody knows someone who has had an experience at the hospital.”
A unique aspect of the gala every year is the voting for next year’s “color” of hope. This year the color is green, and everyone is asked to wear their best green cocktail attire.
Other highlights of the Gala include the Hopetini, a specialty drink for the evening created and sponsored by Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and a “candy bar” sponsored by MARS US, featuring pounds of various MARS candies in the appropriate color of the year.
“It is amazing that we have two very dedicated committees that work on these events year round,” Selig said. “Some of these Will Golf 4 Kids members have been involved since the inception and continue to serve the children, to volunteer their time and to make a difference. That’s what’s amazing to me, to the hospital and to the community.”